King of His Kingdom

Not the cleanest on Indian cities
Even with its claim to the Taj Mahal …
the very same thought occupied me on my previous visit
… long ago
Agra; on the river Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh, Northern India

The mornings dense fog mixes
together with the usual polluted haze
acrid aromas envelop every breath
cows uphold their mighty of the roads

On this day I traverse the Old City
I venture into a streetside eatery
Usually reserved only for locals
I ordered what was to be the most sumptuous
vegetarian meal from the North

I am struck
by a boy
possessing a smile that held the intensity of the sun
Bilal
Ten years old –
Very little English
His smile … his presence
lift me far from this back street in the Old City of Agra

Just as he is captivated with my milky white skin
I too have been captivated by his strength of being

I ask his name
I ask his age
I ask if he attends school

The owner of this quasi like eatery overhears

‘He does not go to school’. In perfect English
‘He has no parents, no family.’ Quite matter of fact.

Bilal watches the exchange
I wonder if he notices my sudden shift in emotion

‘Where does he live?’ I ask
‘Here, he sleeps on the floor.’

Bilal continues to steal glances as I eat.
I observe his potent ubiety
For – in the nothing he has
He possesses
A rare and authentic bravura for life
King of his own Kingdom

This makeshift eatery
On a busy backstreet
In the Old City
Of Agra in Uttar Pradesh
Will forever more be to me
The city of Bilal
Who is the only King
I care to meet
in this life that offers everyone their own Kingdom
Yet granted only to a special few

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3 thoughts on “King of His Kingdom”

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